Heather Strang, and co-author Brooke Emery, wrote the upcoming book Stop Shoulding On Yourself! A Woman’s Guide From Obligation to Inspiration. The book encourages women to live from an authentic and should-free space.
So, grab a cup of tea and read on…who knows, you just might find some great ideas for your own life…
This month’s focus was originally scheduled to be on career. But, the question below was too hot to pass up! Be sure to send your career questions my way for October’s column.
I am 37 years old, happily married, no kids and at a midpoint in my career. I feel like a few more years in my field will really take me to the top. However, my biological clock is ticking and I wonder if I should put it all on hold to enter into motherhood. I feel like such a long hiatus away from my career would be detrimental to the momentum I have built up so far. And I think mothers should really be around for their children in those formative years. What should I do?
Thank you so much for sending in this very popular should question. The should’s on this topic hit us from all angles–the media, parents, friends and co-workers. And they all talk at length about the alleged biological clock. It’s a lot of pressure and a huge should for women today. Often, women are deemed as selfish if they choose not to have children (or put it off longer than socially acceptable), while women who do have children in lieu of a career are criticized for their choice as well.
Let’s first start by exploring your two options as you’ve laid them out. Notice, we’ll de-should them as we go along…
1) Have a baby and take a break from your business.
Many women, who operate their own business, also have babies. Having a child doesn’t mean an end to your business. It may mean a break for 3-6 months (or however long you choose), but it certainly doesn’t mean you cannot have a child and a business. Granted, having a baby takes more responsibility and energy, but it is possible to do both. Not convinced? Try this out:
-Make a list of women you know that are working/operating their own business and have children.
-Take one or two of them out to lunch, or set up a phone appointment.
-Ask them about how having a baby changed their business and life.
- Did they lose everything they built up in their business and have to start from the ground up (perhaps your primary fear) or did it float along without a blip?
- Dig in and view this “interview” like you would an informational interview for a job. Ask about how it affected their marriage and their own time, as well the new things they learned about life.
-If it’s a close friend, spend a few hours with her as she balances baby and business. Get a feel for what it’s like.
-Next, go home and visualize your life and business with a baby in it. Pay attention to how it feels to imagine this possibility for yourself.
Remember, the momentum you have now will not evaporate, especially if you are following your true heart’s desire.
2) Stay childless and continue to grow your business.
In the same light, there are also plenty of women who have chosen to solely focus on their business, life, relationships, etc. instead of having children. While not the most common path, many of the women I know who have made this choice feel it has opened doors they never imagined. Again, the point is to learn as much as you can about this option.
-Make a list of 40-50-60-something-year-old women who have chosen to remain childless.
-Choose one or two, and take her out to lunch or for some other engagement. Be sure to apply the same informational interview techniques as mentioned above in the first option.
-If you can, spend time with this woman, either in her business or engaged in a favorite hobby. Pay attention to her being-ness and how she operates in her life.
-Set aside some time to quietly visualize what your life would look like 10, 20 or even 30 years from now without a child.
- How would your business look?
- What would your partnership be like?
- How would it feel?
The most important part of these exercises is to pay close attention to how you feel as you visualize the scenarios. If a feel-good answer doesn’t come to you right away, give yourself a deadline and let the idea simmer. Keep visualizing. It can be 3 months to 9 months–whatever feels right for you and your partner. It may take you a few years to feel comfortable with a decision either way, and if that’s the case–honor that and don’t let the “should’s” infringe on making a choice that is for your highest good.
And finally, you’ve worked really hard to create an amazing business, so take a moment right now to congratulate yourself. It’s a BIG accomplishment! Reward yourself for all of your hard work (spa day with girlfriends, new piece of jewelry, a weekend all to yourself, etc.) and allow the should’s to dissolve.
Remember, this is YOUR life. And how are you going to spend your one beautiful life? Choose what feels the best for you and you can never go wrong.
Happy Should-Free Living!
Much love & blessings,
Have a question about this topic or any other? Next month we’ll focus on the should’s surrounding your CAREER. Send your questions to: [email protected].